Fifteen years ago, I spent the night in a Toys R'Us parking lot waiting for a Nintendo Wii. And in this age of instant gratification, I strangely miss the feeling of that experience.
I was 17 years-old when the Nintendo Wii was released. It was my last year of high school and all I wanted was a Wii for Christmas. I told my Mom that's what I was interested in - that maybe it could be a combined gift from everyone and I needed nothing else.
Because this was long before the days of preordering online, my Mom laughed at me and said, "Yeah, sure. You want a Wii? You can go stand in line for one for Christmas."
Fast forward to a week or so after the Wii's release. My husband (then-boyfriend) called me at 2 a.m. on a very early Sunday morning and said, "I'm in line at Toys R'Us for you. They have Wiis and we're getting you one." He had gotten a Wii the week before and had spent time trying to find out when more shipments were coming.
I got changed, grabbed my Mom's credit card(!) and left a note saying, "Went to Toys R'Us to get a Wii!" Annnnd then I snuck out of the house in the middle of the night.
It was that early December night, freezing and snowing, that I spent with my boyfriend and a bunch of strangers waiting for a Wii. My boyfriend had shown up in his pajamas and, after I got there, he went home to change into something warmer while I held our place in line. The people in front of us were playing frisbee and drinking beer. And as the sun started to come up, the excitement began building.
Then my anxiety kicked in and I realized I had my Mom's credit card. Are they even going to let me use that? I was 17, I didn't have my own card. I was such a goody two shoes that I didn't even know I had broken my city's teenage curfew law!
Anyway, the store opened and they shuffled us inside. I vaguely recall the Wii being bundled with Marvel's Ultimate Alliance game, but it also may have had Wii Sports included? I know I got both games that day.
After our successful quest 7 or so hours later, my boyfriend and I went to the local diner next door for breakfast. Then my phone rang. It was my Mom, screaming, "WHERE ARE YOU!?" with a few swear words added that I won't repeat. She was so mad at me and I didn't see what I did wrong! "I went to go get a Wii like you said! I even left a note," I replied.
Apparently the whole "Mom told me what to do" thing didn't really mean that at all. I shoveled in the rest of my breakfast, thanked my boyfriend for the help and bolted home with the Wii.
How did my Mom punish me for sneaking out? My brother and I were allotted two hours to play it that day so we played Wii Sports. Then Mom made me wrap the Wii myself and put it under the tree, not letting me touch it until Christmas! For two and a half weeks, I was mocked by the wrapped Wii under the tree.
The Nintendo Wii truly was an amazing device. It may have been the first time we got my Mom interested in our video games - she actually played Wii Bowling with us. And I'm happy to see the Nintendo Switch act as the next generation's Wii. There's so much that video games can do for us and I love seeing non-gamers give it a try.
That night in 2006 was the last time I waited overnight for a video game console. The internet has made things so different, sometimes even harder. (It took my husband nine months of trying before he was able to get a PS5.) Occasionally I'll think back to our little adventure during December 2006 and smile to myself because, for me, it was a once in a lifetime experience.